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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Meet the New "Love Couple"

or "Whatever Anna Wants, Anna Gets."
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Jump shot: Anna Netrebko and hubby Yusif Eyvazov will sing 'Tosca' together at the Met.
Photo © 2018 The Royal Albert Hall.
The Metropolitan Opera has announced yet another casting change in the company's current production of Tosca which is scheduled to return to the stage on April 26. Tenor Marcelo Alvarez is out, replaced by the tenor Yusif Eyvazov in only his fourth appearance on the Met stage. He is Ms. Netrebko's husband.

Mr. Àlvarez is the latest in a long line of casting and conductor changes that have bedeviled this Tosca since its announcement last year. Artists that have dropped (make that "left") included soprano Kristin Opalais, conductor Andris Nelsons, tenor Jonas Kaufmann, baritone Sir Bryn Terfel and another conductor, James Levine. The staging finally debuted at the Met on New Year's Eve, 2017, starring tenor Vittorio Grigolo, soprano Sonya Yoncheva in the title role and baritone Željko Lučić. Emmanuel Villaume conducted.

Opera lovers will remember the last time a married couple exerted this kind of sway over the Metropolitan Opera. That couple was Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, who met while singing in Mimi and Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème. The Alagnas performed, recorded and filmed operas together and were heavily marketed as the "Love Couple" by their then-representative, the late Herbert Breslin.

Their reign would be short-lived. In 1999, Mr. Alagna, Ms. Gheorghiu and Mr. Breslin would find themselves at loggerheads with director Franco Zeffirelli and Met general manager Joseph Volpe over a new staging of Verdi's La Traviata. The matter in question was one of salary.

Mr. Volpe famously fired the two singers, replacing them with Patricia Racette and (in an ironic twist) Mr. Àlvarez. Those performances marked Mr. Àlvarez' Met debut and he has sung regularly at the house ever since.

Mr. Eyvazov is the husband of Anna Netrebko, who is singing her first Toscas at the Met. The April 26 performance will be Mr. Eyvazov's first appearance at the Met since 2015 when he sang Calaf in Turandot.

Ms. Netrebko met the Azerbaijani tenor in February of 2014, when they co-starred in a Rome production of Puccini's Manon Lescaut. They announced their engagement five months later and married on December 29, 2015. He is her second longterm partner: the first being the Uraguayan bass Erwin Schrott. This is the first time that they will sing together at the Met. (As of this writing, Mr. Schrott has not been engaged to sing Scarpia.)

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